How to Install a NIC Card in Your Computer

Almost every computer manufactured currently has a NIC card factory installed, but if you're building a PC from scratch, it's a simple enough process to install one. The Network Interface Controller (NIC) is sometimes called a network adapter, and you won't be able to connect your PC to your home network without one.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • NIC Card
  • Installation disk
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver

Step 1: Remove Tower Case

Disconnect the computer from its power source. Disconnect all the cables from the back (monitor, mouse, keyboard and speakers). Gently lay the tower on a flat work space on its right side. Using the Phillips head screwdriver, remove the two screws from the back of the left-hand side panel. The panel should easily slide off toward the back of the computer.

Step 2: Find an Available Slot

If you're standing with the base of the tower in front or you, you should be able to look down into the "guts" of the computer. At the lower end of the mother board, there's a series of horizontal slots for inserting different pieces of computer hardware (modems, graphics cards, or in this case, the NIC card). Find a slot that has a matching number of pins that corresponds to the number on your NIC card.

The tower might have a metal tab at the back that matches up with the slot where you'll install the card. Remove this tab with a screwdriver. Don't worry if it bends when you take it out - you won't need it anymore - but save the screws.

Step 3: Install the NIC Card

Gently push the NIC card into the available slot, while lining it up with the open space where you removed the tab. Once it securely snaps in place, use the screws you removed to attach the card to the back of the tower. Once everything is in place, put the side panel back on the PC tower. Reconnect the mouse, keyboard, monitor and other peripherals and boot up the computer.

Step 4: Install Software

If the NIC card came with an install disk, insert it in a disk drive and install the software. You may have to do a system reboot once this is done.

Step 5: Download and Install Drivers

Connect to the Internet and go to the NIC card manufacturer's site. Download the latest drivers and install them if necessary. This may require a second system reboot to take effect.

Step 6: Connect to the Network

You're now ready to plug a network cable into the NIC card, or to detect a wireless network, depending on what system you're using. If you're running a Windows-based operating system, it's a simple process to either connect to an existing network or set up a new one. Click on the Network tab from the Control Panel, or access your network from the System Tray. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a network or connect the current PC to the network.

You can use Administrator privileges to allow folders and files to be shared between computers on the network, thanks to the newly installed NIC card.